Cambridge University

— Good Thinking

New butterfly-wing technology could foil counterfeiters

Counterfeiting is a crime as old as money itself. It causes a reduction in the value of real money and can add to company losses, as they are not reimbursed for counterfeits. In 1996 Australia became the first country to have a full series of circulating polymer banknotes, which are difficult to counterfeit because they cannot be successfully reproduced by photocopying or scanning. Now scientists have discovered a way of mimicking the stunningly bright and beautiful colors found on the wings of tropical butterflies, that could help make banknotes and credit cards even harder to forge. Read More
— Science

Researchers offer hope of solving Lithium battery safety problems

It’s probably safe to say that just about everyone is impressed with the incredible performance offered by lithium-ion batteries. They make our cell phones and laptops viable for real-world use and will be powering just about every electric vehicle on the road. These batteries do have one problem however: they sometimes catch fire. That’s not good. Fortunately, scientists at Cambridge University think they’re on the road to solving this problem - a new technique allows them to “see” the chemistry at work inside batteries. Read More
— Health & Wellbeing

'Artificial pancreas' could remove multiple daily finger prick tests for children with type 1 diabetes

An artificial pancreas system being developed by scientists at Cambridge in the UK could help safely manage type 1 diabetes in children.The artificial pancreas combines a commercially available continuous glucose monitor and an insulin pump, and uses a sophisticated algorithm which calculates the correct amount of insulin to deliver based on real-time glucose readings. Read More
— Digital Cameras

ProFORMA software creates a 3D model of an object in minutes using a webcam

Cambridge University PhD student Qi Pan has designed software that creates textured 3D models in slightly more than a minute using a stationary camera, such as a webcam. Conventional off-line model reconstruction relies on a number of phases - there’s an image collection phase that can be quite quick, followed by a very slow reconstruction phase, which requires a long time to verify a model obtained from an image sequence is acceptable. This new software creates a 3D model on-line as the input sequence is being collected. As the user rotates the object in front of a camera, a partial model is reconstructed and displayed to the user. Read More
— Environment

US$3 LED light bulb lasts 60 years, could end battle of the bulbs

Cambridge University researchers have developed cheap, light-emitting diode (LED) bulbs that produce brilliant light but use very little electricity. They will cost just GBP2 (USD2.80) and last up to 60 years. The gallium nitride based bulbs are 12 times more efficient than conventional tungsten incandescent bulbs and three times more efficient than compact fluorescent low-energy bulbs. As well as lasting 100,000 hours, ten times as long as today's eco-bulbs, the LED bulbs do not contain mercury, so disposal is less damaging to the environment, they do not flicker and fully illuminate instantly, unlike the current generation of eco-bulbs. Read More
— Space

Teddy Bears in space

For half a century, the friendliest face of space travel was Laika the space-dog, launched into Earth orbit aboard Sputnik II. Now Britain has challenged Laika’s supremacy by launching two teddy bears into the stratosphere. The toys, named MAT and KMS, wore space suits designed by children at the Parkside and Coleridge community colleges. Read More
— Mobile Technology

Plastic Logic Flexible Electronic-Reading Device

September 8, 2008 The electronic reader industry has promised a lot for a long time and despite bullish forecasts, has yet to make mainstream status. That may be about to change with Plastic Logic previewing a gamechanging new device at the DEMOfall 08 technology conference. With a large 8.5 x 11-inch form factor, the Plastic Logic reader is thinner than a pad of paper, lighter than many business periodicals, and offers a high-quality reading experience aimed at professional users and will be available in Q2, 2009. “Research confirms professionals read much more business content than recreational content. They require access to all formats of digital content at their fingertips, and want a large readable screen,” said Plastic Logic CEO Richard Archuleta. Most significantly, the Plastic Logic display is flexible. Read More
— Science

ESF initiative to re-energise mathematics teaching

August 30, 2008 Mathematics is the only truly universal language. It describes the world and facilitates the vast majority of our advances in understanding. Mathematics underpins education: the only surefire cure to the world’s ills. Mathematics teaching is as vital as ever both in support of key fields such as life sciences, alternative energy development, or information technology, and also through its unique ability to develop problem solving skills. It should be highly relevant not just for the elite few but for all people in education. Recent research has shown that school students’ mathematical achievement is directly influenced by the students’ beliefs about mathematics and its teaching, teachers’ beliefs about mathematics and its teaching, and the ways in which teachers initiate and sustain learning opportunities. An attempt to re-energise mathematics teaching in Europe is being made in a new European Science Foundation (ESF) project examining a range of factors thought to influence achievement. Read More
— Electronics

Plastic Active-Matrix SVGA flexible e-paper Display

December 6, 2005 Plastic electronics developer Plastic Logic has developed the world's largest flexible organic active matrix display. The display consists of a flexible, high resolution, printed active-matrix backplane driving an electronic paper frontplane from E Ink Corporation. The display will be publicly shown at the 12th International Displays Workshop in Takamatsu, Japan tomorrow. The displays are 10" diagonal SVGA (600 by 800) with 100ppi resolution and 4 levels of greyscale. The thickness of the display when laminated with E Ink Imaging Film is less than 0.4mm. The backplane substrate is made from low temperature PET supplied by DuPont Teijin Films which is more flexible and easier to handle than alternatives such as thin glass or steel foil. Read More
— Good Thinking

After you read this, you will know less ...

August 9, 2005 Even the most ignorant cannot know less than nothing. After all, negative knowledge makes no sense. But, although this may be true in the everyday world we are accustomed to, it has been discovered that negative knowledge does exist in the quantum world. Small objects such as atoms, molecules and electrons behave radically different than larger objects -- they obey the laws of quantum mechanics. What could negative knowledge possibly mean? In short, after I tell you negative information, you will know less. Such strange situations can occur because what it means to know something is very different in the quantum world. In the quantum world, we can know too much, and it is in these situations where one finds negative knowledge. Negative knowledge (or more precisely negative information) turns out to be precisely the right amount to cancel the fact that we know too much. While all this might appear to be very mysterious, negative information can be put on a rigorous footing as can be found by visiting the homepage of quantum physicist, Jonathan Oppenheim at Cambridge University. Read More